EDITORIAL: Have you received your flu shot yet?

As cobwebs come down and frightful pumpkins make their way to dinner plates and compost piles, it’s time to revisit the fall checklist.

Is the flu shot checked?

Island Health reminded residents last month to get a flu shot early to protect themselves and their loved ones this season.

“Planning ahead and getting your flu shot early is an important way to protect yourself and your loved ones, especially those who are vulnerable to complications of influenza,” says Dr. Dee Hoyano, medical health officer for Island Health. “Many people are finding pharmacists and pharmacy flu clinics a convenient choice for getting their flu shot.”

Influenza (the flu) is among the top 10 leading causes of death in Canada, causing more than 12,000 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths annually. The flu is an infection of the upper airway (nose and throat) caused by the influenza virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, runny nose, sore throat, fatigue and cough. The term “flu” is often used to describe other illnesses, such as a cold or stomach virus. However, flu symptoms are usually prolonged and more severe than a cold and do not include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The flu virus spreads between people through breathing, coughing and sneezing. Getting vaccinated is the best protection against the flu, and compliments other prevention measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick.

And it’s not too late. Vaccines are available from a pharmacist or physician and families with children can get their flu shot at a public health clinic. The flu shot is free in B.C. for people at risk from complications and their closest contacts. That list includes children six months to five years old, seniors 65 and older, pregnant women, aboriginal people, indivduals with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems, anyone who lives with any of the above people, and visitors to long-term care facilities and hospitals.

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